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Documenting Sources of Information: Avoiding Plagiarism

How to give credit to the authors/creators of work you use in research papers or other assignments


Plagiarism is a term used to describe the misrepresentation of the authorship of an idea, image or concept. Basically, plagiarism is the theft of all or part of a work created by another by means of allowing their work to be identified as your own by including it in your work with no credit given. Plagiarism can be deliberate or accidental. 

Plagiarism is unacceptable. It is unethical to claim information or ideas from another person as yours, in the same way that it would be morally wrong to steal the plans for someone's invention and claim that you were its inventor.

Plagiarism can be avoided by giving credit--or listing the original source--within your work, for each bit of information that did not originate in your own mind.

Consequences of Plagiarism

Whether deliberate or accidental,plagiarism is unethical and is taken very seriously at the college level. Depending on circumstances, consequences could include:

  • Failing an assignment
  • Failing a course
  • Being expelled from a college or university 
  • Being sued by a person whose work you have plagiarized

See the Student Rights, Responsibilities, and Judicial Procedures, Section VIII. A: Academic Misconduct and Section VI: Code of Conduct Sanctions, as published in the Student Handbook (Appendix A.), for information on Isothermal Community College’s policies.

Deliberate and Accidental Plagiarism

Examples of deliberate plagiarism:

  • One person writes a paper or completes an assignment and another person hands it in for a grade.
  • A student copies information from a source and pastes it into their work with no quotation marks or credit given.

Example that could be deliberate or accidental:

  • Using someone's graphic or drawing without credit
  • Failing to put quotation marks around a direct quote (a section of text in exactly the same wording as it is in the source)

Examples that are probably accidental:

  • Using too many of the same words of the source in a paraphrase
  • Expanding on an idea from a source without giving credit

Important Note: Don't Worry!

Our intent in providing this information here is to alert you to do your best to avoid plagiarism and to document all your sources from the start of your college studies, since it is an important matter here at the college level.

In a course requiring a formal research paper, you would be given lots of specific information and guidance on how to creat citations and credit the sources you use. 

If you are you are interested in learning more about citing sources, see Help for Constructing Citations.

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